A new day dawns in Surinam

Date Published: 
2003-11-05
Source: 
fifa.com

On 1 November 2003 FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner inaugurated the Emile de la Fuente Sportscentrum in Paramarbio, Surinam. Built on land donated by the Surinam government and financed by FIFA as part of its Goal Programme, the sports centre is a major step forward in the Surinaamse Voetbal Bond’s (SVB) initiative to improve the game in the vast, under-populated nation.

Situated on the South American mainland and a neighbour to CONMEBOL giants Brazil, Surinam historically has been closer to the islands of the Caribbean, an affinity evidenced in the SVB’s status as a founding member of the Caribbean Football Union (1978). Moreover, Surinam once held a special place in the hierarchy of Caribbean football. During the 1970s, considered to be the “glory days” of Surinam’s football, the national team struck fear into football-loving hearts across the Caribbean landscape and the game blossomed at home. Importantly, the country also elevated on to the international stage one of the brightest lights ever to shine in Caribbean football – Andre Kamperveen, the founding president of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).

An extended period of military rule, political turmoil and economic decline after the country gained its independence from Holland in 1975 forced the domestic game into a downward spiral. Andre Kamperveen was assassinated by political opponents in 1982 and was succeeded as CFU President by Jack Warner. Today, Kamperveen’s contribution to the country is memorialised in the national stadium, which bears his name.

Despite the domestic problems, the proud tradition of Surinamese footballing excellence was preserved on the international stage during this difficult time, and even to the present day, by Surinamese emigrants and their children in Holland – Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf and Patrick Kluivert, being just a few among many illustrious names that the émigré community has presented to Planet football.

Football has always been and remains the most popular sport in Surinam. The SVB was founded in 1920 and affiliated to FIFA in 1929. Businessman Emile de la Fuente, was President of the national association between 1952 and 1955 and during his presidency was instrumental in the construction of Surinam’s national stadium, which today honours the name of Andre Kamperveen. De la Fuente died in 1977, but today the national association is the proud owner of a centre of excellence that in turn honours his name, including one natural grass field, a grand stand for public seating, changing rooms for players and officials, a dormitory that houses ninety-six, conference and dining rooms and administrative offices. His family remains one of the SVB’s main corporate partners.

Recovery

The SVB is currently undergoing a process of recovery as it moves towards a new era of international pre-eminence for Surinamese football. With a population base of less than half a million and counting on some twenty thousand registered players, the SVB participates in CONCACAF qualifying for all FIFA championships – men’s, women’s, youth and futsal. Over the past four years the women’s game, in particular, has developed steadily and the women’s national team has assumed an increasingly important profile for the SVB in the Caribbean competitions. This has been possible only with the financial support of FIFA. However, while the national association owns three stadiums that are used for various competitions – all in the capital city, Paramaribo – never before did it have access to a proper training and development facility.

Once again, FIFA has come to the assistance of the national association. The sports centre will provide a base for a wide variety of SVB development programmes and for the training of national teams. Together with the SVB’s Essedt Stadium, which has a modern artificial field that was installed with the assistance of the Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) and is situated next to the sports centre, Surinam football now owns a modern football complex that provides for educational activity, training and competitions.

Sadly, on the morning of the inauguration, Johnny Kamperveen, CONCACAF committee member and the son of Andre, passed away. Nonetheless, the inauguration was a festive occasion attended by a broad array of footballing and political dignitaries, among whom was the Surinam Minister of Education and Community Development, Walter Sandriman. In addition to Vice-President Jack Warner, FIFA was represented by Goal Bureau member Harold Taylor (Trinidad & Tobago) and FIFA Development Officer Keith Look Loy (Trinidad & Tobago) who, along with the Vice-President Warner, made a symbolic presentation of adidas Goal balls to members of the women’s, youth and disability football sectors, which were represented by hundreds of players who participated in exhibition matches prior to and after the ceremonial activities. One hundred and eighty Goal balls have been donated by FIFA to the SVB.

Most importantly, the SVB has accepted the challenge to establish and implement the types of development programmes that would justify the investments being made in Surinamese football. SVB President, Luis Giskus, was effusive in his praise of FIFA.

“FIFA’s financial support has enabled the SVB to develop football in Surinam over the past few years. We have invested a lot in youth and women’s football so that Surinam could once again participate in international competitions. The Goal project will function as the main centre for the continued development of the game. Youth, women’s and disability football will all receive special attention. Naturally, we will also organise courses and national team training here. We will use the power of football to build a better future. A new day is dawning for Surinam football.”